Tech AwardsThe Tech Awards is an annual competition that recognizes work done by startups around the world that help to improve the standard of living in impoverished areas. Through the work done by these startups, many people are able to gain access to tools to better their education, communication and rights.

From the 2016 Tech Awards, the panel of judges recognized six Tech Awards laureates who have continued to improve communities over the last 15 years. Each startup won an award related to the work they do. These are the six companies and their impact on the communities they help.

Source International
Source International was named a Tech Awards laureate in 2014. In 2016, they won the Intel Environment Award. Source International is an Italian company that works with communities to deal with environmental pollution and health issues that arise because of it.

Source International provide these services free of charge in communities where their services work. Furthermore, they train local leaders to develop and promote environmental monitoring systems to benefit those communities.

Equal Access International
Equal Access International was named a Tech Awards laureate in 2003. In 2016, they won the Microsoft Education Award. Equal Access International is a non-profit organization that creates informative and educational media programs to address women’s rights and education issues in different countries across the world.

Equal Access International currently works in nine countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. They use a multimedia approach as well as direct community involvement to raise awareness of these issues, educate people on how to overcome these issues and train people to actively change unfavorable laws and legislation.

Souktel
Souktel was named a Tech Awards laureate in 2010. In 2016, they won the PayPal Equality Award. Souktel is a company that connects employers with employees using development and tech expertise to expand technological communication.

Souktel is focused in areas where unemployment is high due to the lack of access to communication. They work directly with companies to establish platforms for companies to use mobile phones, hotlines and more, while Souktel provides servers to host the platform, as well as customer support.

Angaza
Angaza was named a Tech Awards laureate in 2012. In 2016, they won the Katherine M. Swanson Young Innovator Award. Angaza works to provide affordable solar energy to areas that rely on more toxic forms of lighting, such as kerosene.

Angaza developed a pay-as-you-go platform that allows people in low-income areas to make micro-payments in order to pay for solar products. This creates an affordable way to access cleaner and safer energy for those who need it most.

IDE-India
IDE-India (IDEI) was named a Tech Awards laureate in 2004 and 2010. In 2016, they won the Sobrato Organization Economic Development Award. IDEI is an Indian organization that focuses on providing water access to poor and smallholder farmers. 57 percent of the Indian population relies on agriculture to provide for their families.

According to the Tech Awards website, “IDEI created a low-cost drip irrigation system and foot-powered water pump, which currently reaches 1.38 million households.” Through the improved accessibility of water for small farmers, they are able to generate more income and thrive as businesses.

D-Rev
D-Rev was named a Tech Awards laureate in 2013. In 2016, they won the Sutter Health Award. D-Rev is a company that creates medical technologies at affordable prices for low-income areas. This helps to close the quality healthcare gap for underserved areas.

One example of their medical technology is a phototherapy lamp used to treat jaundiced newborns. Most phototherapy lamps cost thousands of dollars; however, D-REV’s Brilliance phototherapy lamp starts at only $400. It also saves hospitals up to $240 per year on bulb replacements.

These six startups have worked to create innovative solutions to help those in need. From medical and agricultural technologies to communication accessibility, many underserved areas of the world are gaining access to important technologies to help their communities thrive. Not only are these startups improving the lives of those in impoverished areas, but the Tech Awards’ focus on important companies and organizations such as these increase their ability to help others.

Rebekah Covey

Photo: Flickr

Patricia Arquette and Mohammad Ashour Conferred 2017 Muhammad Ali Humanitarian AwardActor, writer and activist, Patricia Arquette, received a 2017 Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award on September 23, 2017. Arquette received the Lifetime Achievement award.

Arquette created the charity, GiveLove, a U.S. based skill-training non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to the instruction and promotion of Ecological Sanitation (EcoSan) and compost sanitation. Arquette founded GiveLove to assist after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. The magnitude 7.0 earthquake occurred approximately 16 miles west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital.

GiveLove works in emergency and development contexts to introduce low-cost, decentralized sanitation systems based on container-based sanitation and human manure composting approaches. Specializing in dry toilets, known as, “compost toilets,” GiveLove’s industrial partners operate in areas with high demand and dry areas to provide safe options for latrines dug in challenging environments.

GiveLove has implemented training programs in Haiti, Nicaragua, Colombia, Uganda, Kenya, India and the United States. The charity partners with NGOs, local community associations, schools, youth groups, universities and governments. GiveLove provides technical skills training, program design and support, staff training, monitoring and evaluation and design consultancy. GiveLove also instructs local organizations to advance sanitation in high-risk communities. Arquette’s company trains licensed sanitation builders, as well as district technicians, to apply and manage projects.

The Center bestowed a second 2017 Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award upon Mohammad Ashour.

During his acceptance speech for the Conviction Principle Award, Ashour promoted universal healthcare and condemned racism. Ashour’s enterprise, Aspire, operates in Ghana and the United States.

Aspire raises food-grade crickets on a commercial scale and actively works to normalize the consumption of insects in the western world. Ashour’s company, based in Austin, Texas, created a massive farm to raise crickets used to make mainstream snacks. The Center honored Ashour with the 2017 Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for pursuing his goal to produce a high-grade source of protein, while also reducing the carbon and land footprint that stems from farming cattle. Crickets are a healthy source of protein and offset the harmful effects that come from the reliance on beef production.

At the onset, employees fed the crickets. However, this system proved inefficient and ineffective, as humans work during daylight hours and crickets are nocturnal. Aspire subsequently incorporated a robotic system that provides the ideal amount of food to the crickets. These adjustments to the cricket’s diet created a better product.

Inside Aspire’s newest building, a robot feeds millions of crickets 24 hours a day. This facility is a 25,000-square-foot research and development center. Aspire plans to duplicate this technology on an additional farm that is 10 times the size of the present plant. It’s a scale that Ashour believes will propel crickets as a mainstream food in the United States. For an insect’s diet to meet its sustainable promise of supplying protein without the carbon and land footprint of beef, Aspire must increase production, making cricket protein widely available and affordable. Mohammad Ashour believes Aspire’s endeavor will make that possible.

According to The Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky, the 2017 Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award honored and extolled the valuable contributions of people from around the world.

Heather Hopkins

Photo: Flickr